Flavours of Fair Trade
Every month, Fairtrade Canada puts the spotlight on one or more Fairtrade certified product categories. For the month of March, they encourage all consumers to look at the ‘Fairtrade mark’ when shopping for groceries. Present on a variety of products from coconut milk to quinoa, implementing a small change such as looking for the mark before picking the products can go a long way in helping farmers achieve what is due to them.
All across Canada, students at universities and colleges are implementing several measures to make their campuses more ethical by using Fair Trade in some form. Mcgill University recently was named Fair Trade Campus of the Year. This makes them No. 1 among the 21 designated fair trade campuses across Canada. McGill had received their Fairtrade status in 2013, and began to offer a number of Fair Trade items – such as bananas, sugar and cotton t-shirts. The looming question is – what is so special about Fair Trade? The answer lies in how the products are made. These products aim to build meaningful long-term trading relationships with farmers and artisans not only by paying a better price for products, but also by ensuring safe labour practices and ecological and sustainable measures of production. An average Fair Trade farmer cultivates 1.4 hectares of land in 74 countries in the world.
Starbucks claims that their coffee is ethically sourced. However, some statistics show that only 8.4% of its coffee is Fair Trade. People are worried about certain myths, like if Fair Trade products are more expensive; or if farmers would not be motivated to produce quality products with Fair trade. The marginal price hike is justified as the way Fairtrade works, the producer organisation (such as a coffee co-operative) receives the Fairtrade price at the point where they sell to the next person in the supply chain (usually an exporter or importer). This is intended to ensure farmers can cover their costs no matter how low the world price for their commodity falls. So paying that extra buck is going towards making someone’s livelihood better. Many supermarket chains are now sourcing Fair trade products and this trend is only forecasted to increase.
So the next time you pick up that bag of coffee grounds, you know what to look for.